Many entrepreneurs have failed in some form.
A product flops. The company goes bankrupt. A business partnership sour. A global pandemic closes a business that only flourished months before.
It’s a cliché to say that it doesn’t matter what happens to you, but how you react – but it’s also very true.
Stephen Scoggins is one of the many entrepreneurs who have managed to fail on the other side. Scoggins, the founder of a successful construction company, Custom Home Exteriors, and a sought-after motivational speaker, has faced numerous challenges, setbacks, and failures throughout his life – including homelessness and poverty.
Today, his message is based on the belief that every person has an enormous amount of power that can help define their future the way they want.
I recently spoke to Scoggins about his journey from homelessness to multi-million dollar business owner.
Shama Hyder: You had a difficult early life and suffered great financial losses on your first business. How did you lay the foundation for your later work this time?
Stephen Scoggins: I grew up in a deeply broken home and money was tight. By the end of my junior year in high school, I had had enough of watching my family struggle. I decided to drop out of high school to help my family keep the lights on, put some food in the refrigerator, and get a bat for a car.
I went all-in: I stabilized the family and moved out alone a few months later. Shortly afterwards, my father’s employer set me up on my own and I started doing well. But that was until my outlook on poverty, mixed with my desperate arrogance to prove everyone wrong, told me I would never keep up and spend the rest of my life wielding a hammer just to get by.
I was making a lot of money at 19 and by the time I was 21 I had lost every penny and was in a deep depression looking around an eight lane highway that was ready to take my life and end my suffering permanently. If you will, it was a divine encounter that saved my life and taught me the words by which I live today: “This too will pass and what comes next will be greater.”
Shortly afterwards, the same man who gave me my first chance gave me a second. And then I started Custom Home Exteriors (CHE), which has grown into a nearly nine-figure construction company. At the time I was sleeping in a borrowed friend’s car.
CHE is now in multiple states and employs hundreds of amazing people. It has weathered Covid-19 and has grown, weathered economic downturns and grown and so much more.
More importantly, though, it was the practice ground that taught this broken, homeless high school dropout all of the tools, tactics, and strategies I needed to build something beautiful and amazing that others could stand on. My first company taught me first how to build with my hands, which then made me build with my head, and finally how to use my heart to give back.
Hyder: Why did you move on to speaking from the construction industry?
Scoggins: Ever since I got a second chance all those years ago, I’ve focused on paying it forward. After starting five other companies, I started the Journey Principles Institute, an organization dedicated to helping others experience freedom and keeping them from getting lost in life and business.
Hyder: What do you mean when you say “people need leaders, not gurus”?
Scoggins: Gurus are not bad – they just lack what is valuable experience of leaders. Guides are people who not only guide and mentor you, but actually have been where you are now, reaching out to you again and again to show you how to break through.
I think one of the reasons I have been able to help others keep up with their lives and businesses is because I have hands-on experience moving the immovable to create better lives for family, my teams, and each person create with whom I come in contact with.
Hyder: What three tips would you give to entrepreneurs who are struggling?
Scoggins: One thing I would tell entrepreneurs is that they should always be strategic, not out of fear. No matter what is happening in your company, what is happening in the world, you want to be proactive rather than reactive.
Also, I would say that whenever you see a bull market you should do it always prepare for the next bear market. That way you have savings to push through. For example, the way that helped us with the Covid-19 hit is that we had profits withheld and that we had more time to see where the market was going and strategies for the best way forward develop.
Third, I would say take advantage of the downward markets. For us it meant buying a struggling competitor, buying a supplier – I always buy in down markets, not up markets. That could mean something different for each company, but there are always opportunities in the lower markets. Make sure you take advantage of them.